DePaul’s Darrick Wood is entering his final collegiate basketball season.
Going from NIA Prep to Bridgton Academy to Palm Beach State to Hutchinson CC to DePaul under Purnell to finally DePaul under Leitao is anything but a linear path.
But now he has the opportunity to make one last impact on the Blue Demons as a scorer, defender, and leader before he wraps up his amateur basketball career.
Wood averaged 5.9 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and 18.3 minutes per game in 29 appearances in 2015-16. Each of those numbers were increases over the previous year, his first at DePaul. He was also able to reduce his turnovers from 1.6 to 1.3 per game.
His offensive game has been more famine than feast in his time in Chicago. He finished 2015-16 shooting 35.8% from the field. That number is down from 36.3% the prior season. His attempts and percentage from inside the arc improved last year, going 41.1% on 5 shots a game. The problem came from three-point range. His percentage plummeted from 33.3% to 19.1% on about the same attempts per game (2015’s 1.7 to 2016’s 1.6).
Darrick made his offensive hay charging towards the basket. Rather, he was slashing in the half-court or pushing the pace on a fastbreak in transition. The bucket was normally his final destination when he had the ball. It was this type of play that helped him put up a career-high 15 points against Butler and at Providence.
The downside to Wood’s attacking mindset is that he doesn’t draw as many fouls as a player of that archetype normally would. His .171 free throw rate is the second lowest on the team, ahead of only perimeter-oriented backup guard R.J. Curington. He would normally settle for floaters or runners if he didn’t instantly see an open path to the bucket. Wood also had the tendency to be a ballstopper, focusing moreso on the right angle to attack than reacting to what the defense gave him. That can be problematic in a Dave Leitao offense that is suppose to facilitate more ball movement.
Darrick fared better as a defender. He’s a very athletic player with long arms and quick feet. He did well at defending opponents along the perimeter. He was capable of quickly recovering if he strayed too far from his man before too much damage was done. Wood’s defensive rating skewed high due to being a member of the 258th best scoring defense in the country. Yet, his 107.6 rating was still the second lowest on the team, trailing only Rashaun Stimage.
His athleticism also afforded him the opportunity to be a defensive pickpocket at times. He only averaged 0.8 steals per game for the season due to the volatility of his minutes throughout the year. If you stretched his average out per 40 minutes, he would average 1.8. Oddly enough, either number puts him at the team lead. His per game average tied Myke Henry’s, who played 365 more total minutes than Darrick did. Wood had a particularly good month of thieving in February. He stole 15 balls over the 7 games DePaul played that month.
As the Blue Demons enter the 2016-17 season, Darrick Wood would be best served becoming a more defiant slasher. Hopefully he will get to the rim more confidently, be willing to take contact, and get to the line more often. He will also need to get his outside shot back to at least sophomore year levels, if not better.
The most important thing Wood will have to do this season is be a senior leader. With four freshman joining the fray, Wood will be one of the veterans that will have to set an example of how to be a successful player at the collegiate level. While success hasn’t bared out in the numbers for DePaul over the years, there is still something to carrying oneself as best as possible.
Aiding in developing an optimistic, focused mindset in the locker room is one of the better traditions a departing senior can hand down. It could also pay dividends for Blue Demons men’s basketball down the line as they try to work their way back to their former tournament glory.